Criminalizing miscarriage

Oh good, now we’re going the “treat miscarriage as child murder” route.

In March, a woman miscarried in a Spokane hotel. Police investigated. They searched her room, told her they’d meet her at the hospital and found it suspicious when she did not show up. They filed a search warrant in hopes of finding her.

Considering the fetus her dependent, officers suspected that the woman could be guilty of criminal mistreatment of a child if she did not call 911 soon enough to potentially save her pregnancy, according to a warrant filed at the time.

A fetus is not a child. Abortion is still legal.

Sara Ainsworth, a Seattle attorney with national nonprofit IfWhenHow, which focuses on reproductive law, said she could not find any reason to suspect a crime in the warrant filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

“Under Washington law, everything about this is discriminatory and potentially violating of constitutional rights,” Ainsworth said.

The case arises as reproductive freedoms have been restricted in Republican-led Legislatures from Texas to Idaho, and with the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly poised to curtail or even overturn the abortion rights enshrined in the landmark Roe v. Wade case. While abortion remains legal in all 50 states, Ainsworth said under Washington’s Equal Rights Amendment, investigating pregnancy losses could be discriminatory as such investigations are necessarily biased against women, Ainsworth said.

On March 24, a woman in her early 20s miscarried in a hotel room in downtown Spokane. A 911 caller, unidentified in the warrant, told a dispatcher that the fetus was about five weeks along.

EMTs who arrived at the hotel room were all men and the miscarrying woman refused to let them in, asking for a female medic instead, according to the warrant. When the woman EMT arrived, she saw a dead fetus in the room’s toilet. She estimated the fetus to be about five months along, according to the warrant.

The EMT urged the bleeding woman to go to the hospital and the woman resisted before texting a friend who she said could drive her there, the warrant said.

In the meantime, three police officers arrived. According to the warrant, EMTs called police “due to the fact that they believed the female needed to get medical attention and that something needed to be done with the fetus which was still in the toilet.”

After knocking on the hotel room door to no answer, the three officers decided to enter the room to ensure “nobody was inside destroying evidence,” the warrant said.

Don’t call the police on a woman who’s had a miscarriage.

H/t takshak

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